These 3 Filipino Artists Bring Climate Change Awareness Through Art

Photo Courtesy of Leeroy New

Over recent years, scientists and activists alike have struggled to effect change through policy-makers with profuse warnings about the climate crisis. Artists all over the world are now rising to the occasion by presenting global warming issues through new mediums and platforms. 

Climate advocates are hoping that these new methods of raising awareness will hit home in a different way. Artistic endeavors include interactive artworks where viewers can both appreciate the artistry while learning about how these problems directly affect the world around us. 

See three such Filipino individuals hoping to impact change through their various mediums:

Derek Tumala

A Manila-based transdisciplinary artist, Derek Tumala primarily works with emerging technologies, light, moving images, and industrial objects. He has been featured in Art Basel Hong Kong, Flame HK, Asia Art Awards Tokyo, ASEAN Exhibition, and many more. He has equally extensive experience with art residencies locally and internationally, including fellowships in Apexart New York, Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria, and Beyond Time Residency in Poland. 

Tropical Climate Futures: Heatbox. Photo Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art and Design
Tropical Climate Futures: Init. Photo Courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art and Design

As part of his residency at the Manila Observatory, one of South East Asia’s oldest meteorological observatories, Tumala developed the project entitled Tropical Climate Forensics. This is a virtual game-like project that utilizes historical data on the atmosphere and earth science to explore and present the climate crisis in both past, present, and future contexts. 

Viewers can go back and forth in time through a dioramic space in order to view historic weather events and disruptions to see the growing changes in the environment. Other areas in the virtual space allow viewers to learn about the impact this has had on our ecological systems through interactive multimedia presentations. 

Tropical Climate Forensics is also part of the World Weather Network. This is a collection of artists that report on climate change through various mediums in order to collate an engaging resource of various viewpoints. Learn about more about this project on the websites of the World Weather Network and MCAD.

Leeroy New

Known for his grand installation art, Leeroy New has recently been working on a massive interactive piece called Mebuyan’s Colony. The sprawling alien-like structure is made from bamboo and recycled plastic bottles. 

Photo Courtesy of Areté Ateneo

The concepts of food security and climate change played heavily into the concept of the colony. Leeroy asked environmental scientist Jose Felix, whose specialization centers on environment and agricultural systems, to collaborate with him on the project. They integrated agricultural spaces which grow crops that can be harvested. Visitors are able to enter and explore the installation.

Mebuyan’s Colony held a reading from the book Harvest Moon: Poems and Stories from the Edge of the Climate Crisis which was created as part of a campaign led by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities to help promote the integration of humanities, science, and policy-making. 

The first colony is housed in Areté Ateneo, while a second colony is in the works in La Union. Mebuyan’s Colony is now also featured at this year’s Burning Man. See Leeroy’s work on his website or follow his social media for updates on the colonies.

Photo Courtesy of Leeroy New
Photo Courtesy of Leeroy New

Martha Atienza

Filmmaker Martha Atienza is known for her work combining video and installation art to document the issues surrounding climate change, environmental degradation, and local communities. 

Film still from: Tigpanalipod (1) 11°02’06.4”N 123°36’24.1”E, (film still) Antonio Dacomos Turib. Martha Atienza

She often features Bantayan Island, her hometown, which has been suffering from the effects of the fishing industry and the climate crisis. What was once pristine reefs lush with marine life are now struggling for life. 

Atienza’s work chronicles these various issues through artistic depictions and cross-cultural insights. Her installations have been featured both locally and abroad, gracing the audiences of the Taipei Biennale and the Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg, to name a few. Peruse her portfolio here.

Film still from: Adlaw sa mga Mananagat (Fisherfolks Day). Martha Atienza
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